For those working in the field of human resources or learning and development, it is widely recognised that getting the best out of employees is a huge skill in itself.

Quality standards are of greater importance than ever before – regardless of industry sector. The management of people and their continual learning is paramount in the pursuit of the highest quality standards. Success of a business and diversity, cross-functional learning and creativity all add additional dimensions to skills development and an exceptional quality standard and service.

For over eight years City & Guilds Accreditation has been deployed as a crucial component when mapping the road to success; ensuring organisations, big and small, achieve a seal of quality on their in-house training programmes.

Isobel McEwan, Business Innovation Consultant and Sharon Saxton, Group Board Director, from City & Guilds have joined forces with Chris Griffin, Head of Consultancy and Education at River Cottage, to share their expert insight through these top five tips:

1) Be visionary

Many businesses seem overly preoccupied with providing the skills their brands need for today rather than anticipating the changes that will impact their industry in the future. The way a business will look tomorrow or in the next five, 10 or 20 years could be dramatically different – forecasting market trends and being a visionary or futurist should be a pre-requisite of every leader. Whilst it’s encouraging that many organisations are focusing on innovation, their biggest challenge is to create the right environment and culture that will encourage ideas from their staff on new products, processes and improvements.

2) Know your product

Consumer knowledge, product feedback and opinion sharing have taken giant leaps over the last twenty years.  A good example of this is in the food and drinks industry. Service professionals require extensive in-house training and adequate guidance to develop into the product experts that an average consumer expects and often demands.

It is no longer sufficient for staff to just understand a basic product range they also need to be familiar with the  provenance, seasonality, locality, flavours and textures of every dish that they sell or serve. Of course not all consumers require this level of detail but a personal view and a tangible recommendation can go a long way towards improving the perception of the brand, the service and more importantly the client’s experience. The bar should be set at a high, yet realistic, level if a top standard of knowledge and understanding is to be achieved.

3) Embrace change. Embrace bespoke

Without a robust and visionary approach for capability and growth, change may be increasingly difficult, if not impossible to manage. Engaging and motivating employees to design, deliver and implement stretching plans and be part of the change process is an approach that is well recommended.

If a business is faced with customers who wish to change a product or its features, so that personal tastes can be satisfied, this call for bespoke should be embraced. Historically, this demand has generally been met with discontent, yet at the same time, consumers have become increasingly expectant of flexibility or a “personal stamp” option.  It is true that for many industries, customisation is not going away, however teams should be trained to have a better understanding of what can be ‘swapped in and swapped out’ and the difference between a justified request and an impossible one. A brand is built and grown in-house, so shouldn’t these degrees of realistic flexibility be set at the core of world-class in-house training?

4) Grow skills for future investment

Planning for change also requires a commitment to the development of people. It’s important to equip them with the necessary tools, not just to cope with a new and changing business landscape but enabling them to understand and be part of the change process. Training is a vital part of this process and will make a huge impact on the success of change implementation. As companies move towards the design, management and control of their own in-house training capabilities, it is also incumbent upon them to be consistent both in terms of the way they train their employees and how they measure the quality and success of the output.

5) Collaborate and accredit your in-house training

Accreditation is viewed as a key facilitator of skills development. It sets a benchmark that is recognised in local and global markets and is a seal of quality, development and success. It also allows learning and development packages to be tailored to industry whilst preserving the core vision – achieving success by setting recognisable quality standards in learning and development, worldwide.





Isobel McEwan is currently working with City & Guilds Scotland as a Business Innovation Consultant promoting the benefits of their Employee Training Accreditation Programme for public and private businesses in Scotland.